Nip-tuck time for Golf, Leon and Octavia
IT'S facelift time for the Volkswagen Group's most popular cars, with the VW Golf, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia each getting spruced up for 2017, says William Scholes.
The three sister cars, along with their upmarket Audi A3 sibling, were all launched around the same time in 2012 and thus, as per the car industry's standard approach to maximise the lifespan of any given vehicle, are ripe candidates for new colours of paintwork, vaguely modified bumpers and lights, new seat trim, the latest in-car tech and safety kit and some mildly updated engines.
The revised A3 is already with us and the other cars will filter into showrooms in the coming months.
There's a strict pecking order in the Volkswagen Group hierarchy which means that Audi generally gets the best stuff first, followed by VW, with Seat and Skoda left to arm wrestle for third and fourth place.
That means the Golf gets gesture control - the first car of this size so equipped - and a version of the digital dashboard that has already wowed us in various Audi and larger VW models.
Volkswagen says the Golf "democratises progress", pointing to the arrival of features thus far seen only on larger and more expensive cars, such as 'traffic jam assist', which pilots the car in stop-start traffic.
With the Leon, Seat has revised the grille - now 40mm larger and in a "richer chrome, like that more traditionally found on more expensive, larger cars" - and fitted LED lights all-round.
The Leon also gets traffic jam assist and the by now usual suite of safety kit, such as blind spot monitoring and traffic sign detection.
There is a new luxury-biased Xcellence trim level at the top of the range and a revised engine line-up includes a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine.
Over at Skoda, the Octavia gets... pretty much exactly the same treatment. New headlamps, boosts to infotainment, a heated steering wheel and a customisable key, which allows different drivers to save their own settings, are among the revisions.
The Golf, Leon and Octavia are among the most popular cars on sale today and the updates being rolled out across their ranges should help shore up their sales against fresher opposition until all-new replacements are ready.